Sunday, November 27, 2022

Pendency of cases, vacant posts of judges, causing hindrance in our justice delivery system

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By Abhinav Verma

Rising number of vacancies in judicial domain is a matter of grave concern as it is not only hampering the working of judiciary but also causing delay in delivery of justice. A better example of this can be seen in the backdrop of huge pendency of cases which is on the rise continuously across the Country. 

To know exactly how many cases are pending in the courts across the India, the most reliable way is to go through National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) website, it is an interactive web portal.

According to the NJDG, India has 3,95,21,011 total number of pending cases including 2,90,71,613 number of criminal cases and 1,04,49,398 total number of civil cases.

Our justice delivery system is facing this challenge because there is large number of vacancies in the Courts and the solution to this problem is appointment of more and more judges for managing the humongous number of pending cases.

There is the vacancy of 26.47 percent in the Supreme Court. The sanctioned strength of judges in the Supreme Court of India is 34, out of which 9 are vacant. And after the retirement of Justice Navin Sinha which is due on 18th August the number of vacant post of Judges will increase to 10.

While the 25 High Court across the country has 58.46 % of vacancies. The Department of Justice website tells us that as on August 1, 2021 the total sanctioned strength of the High Court Judges are 1098 out of which 642 seats are vacant.

The situation is far worst in the subordinate and district judiciary where more than 5,000 posts of judicial officers have remained vacant for several years now.

The Supreme Court Bar Association has made an attempt to fill the vacancy of Judges in the High Court by forming a Search Committee regarding “Elevation of Supreme Court Lawyers to the High Courts.” The “Search Committee” was constituted to facilitate the process of identifying deserving and meritorious Supreme Court practitioners for elevation to various High Courts. The committee has recommended the name of 48 Advocates to the Chief Justice for considering them for the post of High Court Judge.

The problem of pendency is not restricted to India; many countries such as the US and Australia also have the same problem. However, proper implementation of policies regarding reformation of the judicial system helped improve the situation there.

The growth and development of society is based on judicial pronouncements made by courts. However, the workload has increased, leading to efficiency being hampered. Justice delayed is justice denied. As the judiciary is the ultimate protector of human rights and the final resort for dispensation of justice, citizens look up to it with hope. 

Time to time the issue has been raised regarding the same before the Apex Court. Recently, in a matter listed before the Apex Court, the bench came down heavily on the Central Government calling it a “recalcitrant attitude” for not Appointing high court judges for years together even where the recommendations have been cleared by the collegium. The Court was hearing the matter filed by M/s Solar Power Developers Association & Ors. The bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrihikesh Roy made a remark against the Centre that, “the recommendations for appointment of Judge takes months and years to reach the Collegium and thereafter months and years no decisions are taken post the Collegium, the judicial institution of the High Courts is manned by a number of Judges where it will become almost impossible to have an early adjudication even on important issues.”

Chart showing pending vacancies in all the high courts;

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